Voters in the United States recently elected highly controversial business magnate and former reality TV host, Donald Trump, as their 45th President and he is expected to succeed the incumbent US President, Barack Hussain Obama, on 20th January, 2017. The 2016 US Presidential Elections have indeed been a roller-coaster ride for not only the Americans but the world at large due to Trump’s xenophobic and misogynistic campaign. The level of this campaign had such an impact that a mob mentality ensued amongst his supporters that was quite similar to what happened in the United Kingdom after the 23rd June referendum that went in favour of the hate-filled ‘Leave’ campaign, which was spearheaded by Nigel Farage and his likes.
With some 128 million US citizens heading to polling stations with a 55% turnout, Trump’s campaign mainly garnered support from blue collar workers and white-supremacist groups. In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s campaign had the backing of the white collar community and minority communities. Although Clinton received higher votes than Trump during the elections, a centuries old electoral system prevented her from claiming victory. Within 24 hours of the results announcement, thousands of people in major cities of the United States, including New York and Los Angeles, marched against Trump’s victory. Some of the protestors not only burned American flags but also torched Trump’s effigy.
On the other hand, Trump’s supporters remained jubilant but the concerning situation remained their xenophobia against minorities and women. Chants against African-Americans and Muslims were clearly heard at pro-Trump rallies and some individuals also made derogatory remarks about women by ‘calling to do whatever they want with them’ since Trump is their country’s leader now. Moreover, hate-crimes also soared with reports of bullying against members of the minority communities becoming widespread on social media.
The significance of Trump’s accession to the most powerful position in the world is quite huge given all these factors and incidents. No political pundit or analyst took him seriously and some even termed him as a ‘non-electable and non-serious candidate’. However, he defied all odds and rendered many of his opponents speechless. ‘All publicity is good if it is intelligent’, an expression quoted in the January 1915 edition of US-based newspaper ‘The Atlanta-Journal Constitution’, sums up how Trump clinched the mantle of the most coveted position in the West.
Being a shrewd businessman and celebrity, he knew that negative publicity would give him the spotlight required to influence some of the gullible members of the masses especially those belonging to the lower-income households of the White community. Stoking fear became the main theme of his campaign managers and right-wing media groups such as Fox News. Therefore, it was quite essential for them to counter the idea of multi-culturist and liberal policies adopted by the Democrats. With declining income and unpredictable economic conditions, the working class was the perfect target audience for the Republicans with the mainstream media largely failing to recognise this key point.
Eminent Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, openly endorsed Trump and this came as a surprise to many of his followers. However, his opinion was based on the ground that Trump is more transparent and blunt when compared to Clinton. Furthermore, he also believed that a Trump presidency would ensure a ‘big awakening’ that would lead to a political revolution in the long-run. This may unlikely be possible given how the political structure of the US is laid out that goes through multiple layers of decision-making process. What may happen is that Trump could be forced to backtrack on many of his desired goals and work closely at home and abroad for stability and security of the international order.
Coming down to Trump’s victory speech, it was unsurprising to note that he omitted some of the promises made during the campaign given his past backtrackings. He vowed to work for all Americans regardless of their ethnicity or religion and even removed the call for banning Muslims from his campaign’s website. The post-election Trump seemingly looks contrasting but it is yet to be seen whether he adheres to the principles of the US Constitution that were laid down some two and a half centuries ago. Most of the world is already fuming over his rise and some even fear that a dystopian era may have already begun with far-right groups and parties gradually gaining popularity in certain parts of the Free World.
Hope is the only key left for things to improve after the most surprising presidential elections in the history of the US. Trump’s accession to power is a reality but it doesn’t absolutely mean that it’s the end of the world.
Hassan Khan is a Daily Times staff member, with a special focus on Pakistan’s foreign and national security affairs. He tweets at @mhassankhan06 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org